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I've had a lot of compliments in my time Don...
on 9 December 2006
For me, writing a review for "Nighty Night" is essentially like writing out a Valentine's day card for your one true love - no matter how hard you try to express your love, no matter how much you try to avoid cliches in the name of sincerity, you always feel that somehow, words just aren't enough.
Briefly, "On discovering her husband Terry has cancer, beautician Jill Tyrell is eager to move on and find new love. It comes in the form of a bearded doctor, Don Cole. Jill's only obstacles are Terry's return to health and Don's disbaled wife, Cath. But when Jill wants something, she will stop at nothing to get it".
I am going to stick my neck out here and say that, in my opinion, "Nighty Night" is the best programme I have ever seen. Rarely has a sitcom captured such polarity - with such an "unbelievable" leading character on the one hand, yet such a "believable" setting on the other. Throughout my first viewing of the series, I remember thinking that with each episode, the character of Jill became more extreme - from the somewhat "tactless" visit to the dating agency in the first episode when her husband is supposedly dying of cancer, to the audacity of buying raw meat and presenting it as Terry's not-so-dead body later on in the series: just when you think that Jill can't get any worse, she always does. Only a truly brilliant show can have you warming to such an unbelievably unlikeable character - only a truly brilliant show can make you laugh out loud so much, make you feel embarrassed for the characters (think of Terry's funeral) and even make you gag through the use of what, in the end, is only your imagination (think of the scene where Glenn supposedly has a "stool" in a plastic bag).
Despite Jill's supposed "unbelievability", the show still manages to remain "believable" through it's supporting cast of characters that we can all identify with. All of us know someone who is self-centred, thoughtless, and willing to go to any length to get what they want (though, unlike Jill, few of us know anyone who would kill to achieve their ends). Many of us can identify with the character of Cath - a woman with immense patience, always prepared to see the glass as being "half-full", far more tolerant of other people's misgivings than most of us would be. Some of us know a Don-like figure - oozing professionalism through their choice of career, but deeply flawed in their private life: no doubt, a few people reading this review have Glenn-like qualities - naive (and therefore vulnerable) but ultimately possessing a heart-of-gold. The only character I found it hard to identify with was Sue. When I watched "Nighty Night" the first time, I remember thinking that there was more to her than initially meets the eye. Although, on the surface, she seems to be morality personified (being the Vicar's wife and, ultimately, trying to protect Cath from Jill's overbearing presence), there was something about her that didn't quite sit right with me. For those of you who felt the same on watching it - I would urge you to watch the second series as it seems that Julia Davis deliberately left the door open for character development here.
I cannot finish this review without making two final points. Firstly, despite there being a truly outstanding supporting cast here, five stars should go to Julia Davis alone - not only for casting herself in the role of such a tyrant, but also for really capturing the essence of Jill through her mouth-watering one-liner's, choice of wardrobe and body language. Finally, the sound-track is well thought-out, with each song being specifically chosen to capture the spirit of the moment: look out for Gabrielle's "Don't Need the Sun to Shine", always played when Don does finally manage to get "some quiet time", also look out for the darkly ironic DVD-edited inclusion of "I'll Stand by You" at Terry's funeral - something which in the end, Jill never really did.